I’ve read all the “how tos” and advice on sleep training a baby. There are many ways to help a baby learn how to nap during the day and sleep through the night. Suggestions such as letting the baby cry it out, creating a bed time routine, not making eye contact if the baby wakes up in the middle of the night or keeping baby in the crib. All great advice and probably work well when parents stick to their routines (The Year of the Parenting Fads), but I have a picky baby who has no tolerance for methods.
Like every mother, I believe my child is unique. She’s spunky, she’s goofy, she’s full of personality, and boy does she know what she wants. She is everything you could imagine a little girl should be, resilient and bold. All the ingredients necessary to grow into a strong woman. Exactly what I had hoped for the moment I found out I was having a girl. A wonder baby who will grow up to be just like her mama. What I had not taken into consideration, however, was I too would be on the receiving end of resilient and bold. A price I will have to pay.
So, when it comes to methods, wonder baby is not having it. She likes her bottles warm and prompt, her diapers dry, and her sleep well thought out; meticulously planned and choreographed; and if you don’t get it right, prepare to spend the next few hours trying to figure it out.
Her sleeping “ritual,” changes daily and usually takes me a couple of rounds before she’s sweetly dreaming away. It’s like a game of chess with the strategic thinking and check mate is a dozing child. I have read that the best tactic is to place a drowsy baby down and allow them to fall asleep on their own. This has worked, on some occasions at least. The books say not to move baby or pick baby up if she wakes up in the middle of the night. The best method is to avoid eye contact and pat baby’s back to sleep without picking her up. This too has worked some nights, on other nights a muffled fuss usually accelerates to curdling screams until I sooth her with music and rocking or a dream feed. Sometimes it’s all three and other nights I’ll have to throw in a dry diaper. It’s all about balance.
In my home, letting her cry it out is not an option. There are a few times when I have no choice like in the car and I can’t pull over. So sure, I believe it works but I personally hate it. There is something inside of my soul that twists and my heart tears apart every time my daughter cries. Even in the car, I’ll talk to her or sing to her to let her know I am not ignoring her. I do not judge the Mama’s who have chosen this method. We do what we need to do when it comes to our own families and we don’t need other people putting in their input. Believe me, I get it.
Some days it takes mere minutes to get her to nap, other days it takes eight hours and I’m driven mad with frustration because I can’t get the formula right. Quiet days turn into long exhausting nights and vice versa. Other days I get lucky and I nail her soothing demand at every eye rub. I have tried sticking with the best practice methods during each nap and bed time, but my headstrong little girl hypothetically laughs at my attempts to be an exemplary parent (more like cries,) and I’m back to playing an enervating chess game with a six-month-old.
If parenting was graded on your success rate of best methods, I failed it miserably; but I am learning that being a parent is hard enough as it is without all the optimum techniques on how to be a decent one. I’m just trying to get through one nap struggle at a time.